My Morning Constitutional

Great title, right?

This is actually about me preparing for a class on the US Constitution. Disappointed, I see. Hmmm…

Lara and I, along with another friend, have a critical thinking class with our kids. We all teach one subject/topic that leans towards critical thinking and we rotate. We took a 2 month break for the nice weather and we’re getting ready to start back up now that it’s hot and no one wants to be outside. That’s how public schools would run if I were in charge. Sitting in a classroom in 70 degree weather would be illegal.

But I digress.

Before the break, I was teaching from Critical Thinking in United States History, which is a phenomenal program.

Click picture for more information

The kids have debated the Stamp Act and explored the Salem Witch trials for people’s motivations to lie. We finished up the Revolutionary War activities so now we’re moving on to the Constitution. I’m pausing this program and moving on to doing a full unit on the Constitution.

The Constitution is easy to form lesson plans from because it’s already broken into articles and sections. It’s like the founding fathers knew I would want to make it into a homeschool curriculum. Those guys were awesome. But they didn’t make me free at-a-glance printables for easy class reference. And if anyone else did, they weren’t on the first page of my Google search. But using the information from the good folks at US Constitution (dot net), I had the information laid out easily enough to make my own. I’ve attached them for your benefit.


The Amendments

The Constitution isn’t as easy to teach as it is to lesson plan because, well, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have to hear all those appeals cases every year if the Constitution were easy. But I have an easy out. This isn’t a Constitutional law class. This is a critical thinking class. Being a critical thinking class, my goal is to teach the words of the Constitution and leave interpretation up to the kids. Regardless of what So-and-So vs Such-and-Such ruling said, our class isn’t bound by it. Heck, I’ll go you one better and tell you that I will even leave it up to them if the Constitution (as a whole or in parts) is even relevant anymore. I’ll let them question if the application of the Constitution should change over time or if it should always be literally interpreted.

And if there is a McCarthy-esque watch list, I just got on it.

In helping them learn how to interpret the Constitution, we will need some help from the Supreme Court. When I explained the Supreme Court to Dennis, he said, “The Supreme Court is AWESOME.” And I quickly differentiated between the power of the Court and the actual individual justices. In the case of the individual justices, awesomeness is up for interpretation.

But to work through some key Supreme Court rulings that deal with Constitutional rights, I’m leaning heavily (as in entirely) on this book.

Click for more information.

In the You Decide! curriculum, the students are presented with the basics of 75 actual cases that went before the Supreme Court. They learn to organize the information and come to their own interpretations. I expect lively conversation. Mostly from Lara’s son, if I’m being honest. That boy loves a good discussion.

Have you used any of these tools? Have a great curriculum on the Constitution/government? Share in the comments.


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